A person in a wetsuit getting out of the Jubilee River supported by two helpers

Pressure from the EA sinks the Jubilee River Swim

The Environment Agency has refused to give a permit for the 2023 staging of a popular marathon swim

Earlier today, the organisers of the Jubilee River Swim sent out an email to say this year’s event was “at high risk of cancellation.”

The reason: the Environment Agency has decided that the Jubilee River is unsafe for swimming and that no swimming is permitted on the Jubilee at any time. This is despite the event’s long-running safety track record and the fact that the Jubilee River is a popular and frequently used swimming spot by responsible open water swimming groups.

The email went on to state that: “Whilst acknowledging that our event has been run in an exemplary manner, the EA feel that having an exception to the No Swimming policy, and allowing a single swimming event on the Jubilee, is confusing to the public and potentially dangerous.”

The EA haven’t said they would ban the event but they will not issue a permit for it. That, combined with their statement that they believe the river is unsafe for swimming, means that the event became impossible to insure.

Simon Griffiths, founder and publisher of Outdoor Swimmer says:

“This is a retrograde step from the EA. While we understand their motivation to prevent more deaths in the Jubilee, attempting to ban swimming is an old-fashioned and ineffective means to go about it. There is a huge difference between controlled and supervised swimming in an event and messing about in the water around weir structures or leaping from bridges. The former does not lead to the latter. A better approach would be to designate safe swimming areas, run water safety training courses with local schools, and possibly provide lifeguards on the hottest days when we know people are drawn to the river. The Jubilee River Swim should be permitted and supported as an example of how to use the river safely.”

Image (c) Katia Vastiau

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.